Member Article

Ukraine Sitrep makes room for 1m visitors

With the situation in Ukraine escalating daily, a Clubhouse* room that has been running since the war began is acting as a beacon of hope for millions.

The Ukraine Sitrep Room is now understood to be the longest, continuously running and largest attended social audio experience in history.

There has been a 360% increase in downloads of Clubhouse by Ukrainians to receive real-time updates from the room and obtain solidarity with fellow diaspora across the world/country in recent days.

With over 50 days racked up, reaching over 1m unique people in both Ukraine and Russia, it averages 15,000 visitors daily with an average constant listenership of 300.

The room also pushed Clubhouse to rank 5th on App/Google Stores for news, above CNN and many more traditional media outlets and platforms.

It has even inspired listeners to hold their own rallies, one of which reached 500+ people and raised over $2000 in donations, helping to provide refuge to a Ukrainian family who attended by chance.

It was conceived and launched by geopolitics professional and humanitarian entrepreneur, Pyotr Kurzin. An expat English/Russian who has previously worked with the UN, The World Bank and Amnesty International.

He grew up in the UK and has also lived in Russia.

Pyotr explains;

This is a war like no other in terms of the lines of communication and access to information. What I wanted to do was to open them up and to provide objective information to as many people as possible to give them hope.

We can and more crucially, should, be able to talk about politics and religion. It’s not what you say but how you say it and also the surrounding environment, so the Clubhouse experience is like having a welcoming space free from people jumping on top of one another.

People need to actively listen more and not just wait for when they can come in to say their piece, but hear what others say, picking a particular point to build on or challenge and therefore make the whole conversation more fruitful.

The room has also taught me that it’s so important to engage and not turn away from the tough topics, no matter how uncomfortable they may make us. Many people have gotten used to filtering and blocking out things they don’t like on social media and we can’t live such sheltered lives.

As the audience approached 1m, many influential voices joined the room to debate and discuss the issues at hand, ranging from a former Deputy Secretary of State, to the former First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. Eric Weinstein, Lex Fridman, and the former editor of Foreign Affairs/Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations, Gideon Rose, have also featured.

Pyotr continues;

The Ukraine war has been the most documented and covered conflict in history. l think it has reminded many of the privileges they have and that it is still important not to take things for granted or overly complain about how hard things are when you see the reality elsewhere.

Frankly, the reach of the room and the rate at which it has grown has been pretty astonishing. As such we have been covering an increasing impact on the ground in both Russia and Ukraine as the app remains unblocked in Russia where we have had a 120% increase in downloads in recent days.

Pyotr concludes;

This is a beacon of hope. l would not exist if the Berlin Wall had not collapsed and the Soviet Union dissolved, allowing my parents who met in the early ’80s, in Moscow (and stayed in contact by writing letters to each other which they had to send secretly via 4 different embassies), to eventually reunite in the UK in 1990.

So this whole west/east thing is very personal and perhaps explains why the room has a strong symbolism. Many Russians have been coming to the room to listen to the truth about the war. One person even told us that she had changed her whole family’s outlook on the war and in doing so, across her town outside of Moscow.

Our reach isn’t confined to Ukrainians and Russians either. One Romanian listener near the border even helped to arrange buses to evacuate over 200 people from Ukraine into Romania. It is fantastic to think we are helping, even in a relatively minor way.

Pyotr also confirms that members of the Ukraine military have been providing insights on the tactical level, which has helped to inform some local news outlets about the latest updates.

As it has grown, l have begun hosting biweekly talks with academic/industry experts from a top Johns Hopkins SAIS and we will also be having Francis Fukuyama on soon. It is easy to see the 1m visitor figure and get carried away but we will never lose sight of the fact that we are talking to individual people. Some are Ukrainian, some are Russian, many are from all corners of the globe. They are all human.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mac Watson .

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